This story is part of Home Tips, CNET’s collection of practical advice for getting the most out of your home, inside and out.
It’s World Music Day, and if you own an Amazon Echo — or really any smart speaker — chances are good you use it to listen to music. It makes sense: These speakers have all kinds of built-in hardware to make songs sound great in whatever room they’re in, and the addition of Alexa makes ordering up your next track easier than it’s ever been. Just say what you want to listen to and it plays.
But for many Alexa-users, that music experience can be faster, smoother and even better-sounding. Here’s how to get the most out of your Alexa speaker when listening to music.
If you’re like me, you probably have a bunch of Echo Show displays, Dots and other speakers scattered through your house. And if you don’t have them synced up, asking for a song on your dope-sounding Echo Studio could deliver that song two rooms away on the decidedly less dope-sounding second-gen Dot.
However, choosing a preferred speaker is super easy. Just go to the Alexa app, then tap the Devices tab. Select the Group your favorite speaker is in, then tap Choose Speakers. Select the speaker (or speakers) you want your music to come from, then tap Next. Finally, specify whether you want them to be the only speakers that play music or just the ones when you’re in that room.
If you use anything other than Amazon’s in-house streaming service Amazon Music, you should take a few seconds to change the default music streaming service.
To do this, open the Alexa app, then go to More > Settings > Music & Podcasts > Default Services. Select Select your preferred streaming service under the Music, Artist and Genre Stations, and Podcasts banners.
Now when you play music, you won’t have to specify what service you want to stream it. However, if you still want to use Prime Music or Amazon Music Unlimited, at any point you can say, “Alexa, play [song or artist] on Amazon Music.”
Echo Show displays often work as well as dedicated speakers for playing music.
More recent Echo speakers and displays have equalizers that let you adjust the treble, midrange and bass. That means if you’re pumping up some trap music, you can boost the bass, too. And it’s as easy as asking Alexa to turn up the bass or turn down the midrange. If you want to be more precise, head to the Alexa app and simply tap Devices > [Your Chosen Device] > the Settings Gear in the top right corner > Audio Settings. From there, you can adjust each of the sliders to your heart’s content.
If you’re cleaning the whole house and don’t want your music swimming in and out of listening range as you wander the rooms, get all your Echo speakers and displays on the same wavelength. Just say, “Alexa, play music everywhere,” to get started. If that doesn’t work, head to the Alexa app, tap Devices and scroll to the bottom of the page. You’ll see an Everywhere group that you can tap and edit to make sure all your speakers and displays are included.
Before I had kids, I used to blast Kendrick Lamar loud enough to make our windows rattle. Alas, I’m not ready for my kids to start picking up certain words and sharing them with their 4-year-old friends. Thankfully, Alexa lets you activate an Explicit Filter to keep music appropriate for all ages, if you’re sharing a house with sensitive ears.
To activate it, go to the Alexa app, then tap More > Settings > Music and Podcasts > Explicit Language Filter. From this screen, you can toggle the filter as well as activate voice recognition to allow you control over the filter with voice commands (and to prevent your kid from asking Alexa to turn it off).